We know from the last post that older drivers have much better safe-driving statistics than teenagers. We also realize that the consequences of unsafe driving are usually far more life-changing for older people than for teens.
When adult children take the time to think things through, as in Kim’s mother's case, the sobering reality of “taking away the keys” (along with the unhappiness, loss of independence etc. that accompany it), is averted. We can’t say “avoided” because dangerous drivers can not be on the road and there’s always the possibility—for anyone actually— that in future years safe drivers could become unsafe drivers.
While my parents were alive, I was clueless about information and programs to help older people continue drive. Luckily my father had seen the movie “Driving Miss Daisy” while he was in his 70’s. He said he would never drive too long and I should let him know if/when I thought he should limit or stop driving. (He stopped himself some 20 years later; mother was a different story—more about that later.) Here's a sample of information that I wish I'd known about.
AARP has an excellent site http://www.aarp.org/families/driver_safety with valuable information, that includes taking the “55 Alive” Driver Safety Course, (added bonus--it may save on auto insurance), a Driving IQ test and warning signs for when to limit or stop driving. A friend of mine—when he turned 55—told his mother that he would take the course with her every year and as long as she passed, she could continue to drive if there were no accidents. (She stopped driving at 98; they both took the course many times.)
Then there is CarFit, a program that enables you to check how well your car fits you (or in this case how well your parent’s car fits her or him). Individual appointments are scheduled for a “quick comprehensive check.” Recommendations for car adjustments and adaptations, as well as a list of resources, are then given. The easy-to-use website (http://www.car-fit.org/) provides all the information you need.
Finally there are booklets. Check out The Effects of Aging on Driving Skills, an excellent, free, small booklet offered by the USAA Educational Foundation. It’s downloadable from the website. http://www.usaaedfoundation.org/ (phone 800-531-8159). I also like The Older and Wiser Driver, http://www.aaafoundation.org/ (202-638-5944). Just write: "older and wiser and driver" (without quote symbols) in the search space and the brochure comes up.
I find the above helpful for keeping older parents, who are capable of driving, safe and “in the driver’s seat.” And that expression is actually appropriate. When older people can continue to drive safely, as you well know, a huge aspect of their independence and feeling of control stays in tact. They feel good and we don’t have the additional responsibility of getting them from place to place. So we feel good.
Next post: the “(or Not)” conclusion to my driving posts.